Women and child development Ministry headed by Maneka Gandhi along with IT & Communication Ministry has asked every phone maker in the country to install a panic button in handsets, which will ensure women’s safety.
It seems that the Govt. has lost trust on women safety apps, which have flooded the app ecosystem since last few years. As per Govt. officials, such emergency response apps take too much time to respond, and doesn’t solve the purpose.
Women and child development Minister Maneka Gandhi said, “The first round of talks has been done and I have been told that they (manufacturers) have agreed in principle,”
How It Will Work?
As per suggestions from the Govt., a panic button will be installed within the body of the mobile phone, so that it’s access is easy and fast. To safeguard against accidental use, that panic button will be required to press twice or press harder for activating it.
As soon as the panic button is pressed, an SMS will be send to a set of numbers, along with location information. Instead of alerting the police directly, this SMS will be sent to a ‘Panic Response Team’, chosen by the user, which will include family members as well.
Although there isn’t much details about the flow of action, once the panic button is pressed, this ‘Panic Response Team’ along with family members will verify the incidence and inform nearest police officials for further action.
An official said, “Keeping in view various constraints including the understaffed police department, it was thought prudent to send the alerts to family than police,”
But What About Emergency Apps?
Within last couple of years, several emergency apps have been developed for women’s safety, which are freely available. However, Govt. has lost trust on these apps.
In a letter sent by Maneka Gandhi to IT Ministry regarding women’s safety via such apps, she mentioned that during an act of violence, it becomes very difficult to unlock the phone and access the app to call for help. Rather, a button embedded into the body of the phone will be much convenient and fast.
Additionally, feature phone users cannot use such emergency apps, which restricts it’s widespread usage. Such panic buttons can be installed in both feature phones and smartphones. However, using GPS system for precise location targeting may be an issue for it’s successful implementation.
Phone Makers Are in Agreement
Two weeks back, Govt. officials conducted a high level meeting with all stake holders including a dozen device manufacturers (domestic and international), where this proposition was discussed in detail. As per reports, there was an initial resistance from device makers regarding the concept of panic button embedded into the handset body as it will require a major change in design as well as technology.
However, Govt.’s soft persuasion technique has worked for now, as the device makers have agreed to the proposal on a broader level. Soon, another meeting would be held to finalize the procedure and specifications.
In case there is any further resistance, the Govt. has made clear that it will not shy away from making it a mandatory procedure for all handset makers.